WASHINGTON — One-in-eight Americans didn't fill prescriptions last year because they couldn't afford to, but despite difficulties with the economy, that proportion remained level, according to a new study conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The study, which tracked 17,000 Americans' access to prescription drugs between 2007 and 2010, found that low-income people, those without insurance, those in fair or poor health and those with multiple chronic conditions continued to have the most serious problems with access to prescription drugs. Meanwhile, uninsured, adults between the ages of 19 and 64 saw a "significant" decrease in unmet prescription drug needs, from 35.9% in 2007 to 29.4% in 2010, the study found, but one reason was likely that fewer people without insurance reported visiting a healthcare provider in 2010 than in 2007. For elderly people eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, prescription drug access problems dropped from 21.7% in 2007 to 8% in 2010, after doubling between 2003 and 2007.
"About one out of two uninsured people in fair or poor health couldn't afford a prescription drug in 2010, almost double the rate of insured people in the same health," study coauthor and health research analyst Ellyn Boukus said.